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First Prime-Time TV Characters You Loved
April 9, 2008  | By David Bianculli  | 26 comments
women.jpgAnd now, here's something I think you'll really like...

QUESTION: Who were your first TV sex symbols?

These will depend, of course, upon your age, sex, sexual orientation and imagination. I shall say no more than this (though, perhaps, even this says way too much):

I hit puberty in the mid-1960s, just in time to be entranced by, among others, Diana Rigg as Emma Peel on ABC's The Avengers, Julie Newmar as the original Catwoman on ABC's Batman, and Barbara Eden as Jeannie's evil sister, Jeannie II, on NBC's I Dream of Jeannie.

Make of that what you will. My therapist certainly has.

So who were yours?


Unknown sender said:

Marlo Thomas in "That Girl." Closely followed by Meredith Baxter in
"Bridget Loves Bernie."

Len said:

My first sex symbol was definitely Annette Funicello! I loved watching
'Mickey Mouse Club' and then the serials 'Spin & Marty' and 'Annette' just to watch
her grow. I even watched 'Make Room for Daddy' when she guested as an Italian
exchange student.

Marlark said:

Favorite/First TV Sex Symbol:

Yvonne Craig (Batgirl).
Yvonne Craig (Batgirl).
Yvonne Craig (Batgirl).

The blood just rushed from my head. Have to sit down. Feeling. Faint.

Anchorgirl said:

Who were your first TV sex symbols?

You're not gonna believe this, but... Mighty Mouse. An animated character. I know,
it's really weird, but I was three, and I thought he was swell, despite (or maybe
because of) his singing. Not long after, I started to appreciate non-animated
members of my own species, notably James Garner in Maverick, and Vic Morrow in

Chris said:

FIrst female sex symbol I remember after I first started noticing girls,
Peggy Lipton. "The Mod Squad" gave three very unlikely crime fighters. Don't
remember how much she did but she looked good doing it. As I got older and looked
back before that time there were plenty of lovely ladies but she hit me at the right

(And check out our "Links" section here...for a "Mod Squad" throwback. --TVWW)

Mel T said:

Wow. Richard Greico in 21 Jump Street. All the other girls were in love with Johnny Depp, but I could see right through him. He was just a flash in the pan; my Richard was not just awesome looking, but awesomely talented! (Remembering the 80's is so painful.)
(That's very funny, especially the parenthetical. -- David B.)

bob said:

Gilligan he was hot! Thats a man baby, Skipper was OK also. (I've heard of the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate, but Gilligan vs. Skipper? I'm pretty sure when I know my leg is being pulled. little buddy... -- David B.)

Harry said:

Well, Bob remembered Gilligan - That took me further back to Maynard G. Krebs. From Manyard you go to Dobie Gillis (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) - From there to "Thalia Menninger" Now there was a vision for a 13 year old. Who was and is "Tuesday Weld".

For the girls beyond Dobie there was "Milton Armitage" or Warren Beatty... (I'm right there with you with Tuesday Weld! -- David B.)

ace said:

In last night's "Supernatural" season finale, Dean kills a cop who really is a demon. They have to hide his patrol car, number 54, on the roof. At some point dispatch will be asking Car 54 Where Are You? (Ooooh! Ooooh! That's a good one! Nice catch! -- David B.)

Bill said:

Gotta go with David's picks- Jeannie, Catwoman (Julie Newmar) and Diana Rigg, but adding Maryann into the mix. What that girl could do with her coconuts...

Ronni said:

At an early age, Rory Calhoun in those fabulous westerns, Richard Chamberlin in Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey. Later on, definitely William Shatner from Star Trek fame.

Sarah B said:

I'm coming late to this site (thank you Terry Gross for having David on for his best of 2008 list)
I would start with Anne Francis as Honey West, then it was Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, (I guess I like the women who seek action!)
and so on until Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully and Pauly Perrette as Abby Sciuto... sigh, be still my heart!

Rich said:

I'm not entirely sure who was 'First' but I know the general Time Frame and think I narrowed it down to:

Joanna Cameron from "The Secrets of Isis" - the Captain Marvel spin-off.

There was something 'exotic' or a twinkle in her eye that even as a young boy before I knew what 'Being HOT' was - I was entranced.

Others were probably:
The Pink Bugaloo - From "The Bugaloos" I loved her British accent!
Marcia Brady - "Brady Bunch"
Princess Ardala from "Buck Rogers" played by Pamela Hensley.

Andrew Grutman said:

I don't know if anyone mentioned this yet, but on the pilot episode of Flashforward, there were at least 3 different extras. The first one was a billboard for Oceanic Airlines, the second was a bus ad for Desperate Housewives and the last one, for one unexplained reason was Seth MacFarland (Peter Griffin). Anyone else notice any others?

jeff weingrad said:

Mr. Bianculli,
Hi. I have always loved your Extras and always marveled at how amazingly esoteric the nuggets have been that your readers have caught for you.
Well, I think I have, finally, found one that is worthy of the Bianculli Extras file.
At the very end of last night's "30 Rock," Tracy Morgan's character was on a Broadway stage trying to prove his Tony worthiness by reading names out of a phone book, last name and then first name.
The last name he read was: Lipowitz, Lorne.
Well, being something of a "Saturday Night Live" aficionado, i immediately thought, "Extras"!
Before he became famous as "SNL"'s creator, executive producer and sometime on-air character, Lorne Michaels' name was ... Lorne Lipowitz.
The playful name-calling comes as no surprise, considering the many connections between "SNL" and "30 Rock," including not just Morgan and "30" creator-writer-star Tina Fey, but also, to name a few, frequent "SNL" host Alec Baldwin, former "SNL"-er Chris Parnell and current "SNL" cast member Jason Sudeikis, as well as "30 Rock" boss of bosses, Lorne Michaels.
P.S. Congratulations on your new book about the Smothers Brothers.

abby brody said:

Patrick McGoohan, absolutely. He was as cool, sexy, smart and mysterious as his show, The Prisoner.

Earlier, Dr. Kildare (swoon!) when I was 8, then William Shatner (sorry to be repetitive, but these two had eyes, lips and voices that melted women).

Patrick said:

I had, and still have, a major crush on Marta Kristen from "Lost In Space." Most of the kids my age who watched the show (if they watched it at all, as it was on against "Batman") had crushes on Angela Cartwright. But, I liked the older, and more sophisticated Ms. Kristen. I finally met her, and had my picture taken with her, at a "Chiller Theatre" event back in 2002. She was as sweet as could be.

Robert said:

For me it was a three-way tie between Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day At A Time"), Cheryl Ladd ("Charlie's Angels") and Lisa Whelchel ("The Facts Of Life"). I did meet Valerie at a book signing a few years ago and, of course, had to admit to my 30+ year crush on her and said that I'm sure that she hears that all the time. She smiled and replied "I never get tired of hearing it"...

Dane said:

Christina Applegate.

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